Experts say Iran and its adversaries could benefit from the ongoing naval escalation and also question the timing of Thursday's attacks on oil tankers as Japan's PM Shinzo Abe was having a meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
In what looks like a historic recurrence, Iran and the United States are once again on the verge of a naval escalation in the Gulf of Oman, and the turn of events bears a striking resemblance to those of the late 1980s, when Washington threw its weight behind Kuwait to counter the alleged Iranian naval attacks against its Gulf ally.
According to Iranian state media, at least 44 crew members from two tankers were rescued and taken to an Iranian port.
British-Iraqi expert on Middle Eastern conflicts Tallha Abdulrazaq said Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring allies can take advantage of the escalation by drawing "global powers into a confrontation with Iran over potential shocks to the global economy".
“Similarly, Iran may be causing these attacks to show that it can actually shock global economic stability by threatening energy and other critical shipping movement through the Gulf,” Abdulrazaq, an award-winning academic, told TRT World.
Another expert Giorgio Cafiero, who's currently the CEO of Washington-based geopolitical risk consulting firm Gulf State Analytics, said war hawks in Washington could take advantage of the events unfolding in the Gulf waters and "point finger at Iran even if it's less than clear which party was behind the suspected attack".
"At a time in which certain elements within the US administration are seeking to build up its case against Iran in order to unite the world behind its 'maximum pressure' campaign, figures such as Bolton always take advantage of such episodes," Cafiero said, referring to US National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Soon after the attacks took place, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei posteda series of tweets, in which he blasted the US for imposing "their own thoughts and beliefs on other nations".
The attack on Thursday happened at a time when Khamenei was meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.
Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 13, 2019
Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.
Iran's proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.
Last month, four commercial oil tankers were struck in the region, raising speculations on all sides. The US and its regional allies Saudi Arabia and UAE blamed Iran, a charge Tehran denied.
Speaking to TRT World, Iranian-American political analyst Dr. Mohammad Marandi said the attacks could either be a response to "Saudi and Emirati aggression against the people of Yemen", or simply a "false flag operation to raise tension with Iran".
Marandi added that if it turns out to be a covert operation designed to increase US-Iran tensions, certain "regimes do not want to see Japanese and Iranian talks to have any success".